From the Bangor Daily News, with thanks to Tom Karnofsky for the tip:
Maine is enlisting hairstylists in the ongoing effort to eliminate domestic abuse. The idea is that women often open up to their hairdressers, so they should be alert and report problems. "You build a trust with your stylist. They are the ones who are looking out for you," said Debra Krasniak of Cosmotech School in Westbrook, where a training session was held last month. "You tell your stylist a lot of things, and it becomes a safe place at times." ...
Sometimes controlling behavior can be spotted by a stylist, Krasniak said. "You might start offering a change [of hairstyle] and she says, 'No he would not like that,' or 'He would kill me if I cut my hair,"' she said. "You start to think there might be some control issues."
My gut and my brain do not agree on this one.
My gut says there's something creepy and unsettling about the government recruiting businesses to inform on their customers. The new practice would also seem to open up the possibility of massive misunderstandings and errors. For instance, if a customer says "My husband would kill me if I cut my hair," I'd bet that nine out of ten times, it's a mere figure of speech, with no actual bodily harm implied.
Thinking it through, though, I can't really fault the program as long as there's no obligation on the part of the hairdresser to pass on suspicions to officials. The article says:
The new program trains stylists to steer people who may be abused toward one of the state's nine domestic violence projects ... Stylists are supplied with literature to post in their shops, as well as nail files that have an organization's contact information.
If the program is limited to supplying information to women who might need it, I have no problem with it. Note, though, that the first paragraph explicitly mentions that hairdressers should report problems, presumably to the authorities. That's where I'd personally draw the line, though I'm willing to be persuaded of the foolishness of that position. Any Nobody's Business readers care to offer their thoughts?